Jamaica boasts world's sixth oldest person

Son said to be oldest child with a parent alive

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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DUANVALE, Trelawny -- Viola Moss Brown, whose life spans three centuries, was on Sunday hailed by Queen Elizabeth II for reaching the age of 115, making her Jamaica's confirmed oldest person, and the smallest nation to produce a person of her age.

"Mrs Violet Moss Brown, my congratulations to you on achieving the remarkable milestone of 115 birthday and I send you my best wishes," Custos Rotulorum of Trelawny Paul Muschett read from a letter signed by Queen Elizabeth II.

The letter was read during a glitzy bash at the Glistening Waters Restaurant in Falmouth, on Sunday, to mark her birthday.

The milestone makes Brown, who is affectionately called Aunt V, the world's sixth oldest person, a mere two years behind the world's oldest person, Osaka, Japan's Misao Okawa whose birth date is listed at March 5, 1898.

But she may possibly boast a record that those older than her cannot speak of: having the world's oldest living child.

Brown's firstborn Harold Fairweather, who turns 95 in April, is said to be the world's "oldest living child" with a parent alive.

Brown, who live in the house in Duanvale where she was born on March 10, 1900 has been recognised by the US-based Gerontology Research Group (GRG) as Jamaica's oldest person.

Robert Young, the senior data base administrator and the director of the Super Centenarian Department of the GRG, said that the organisation has, since year 2000, been consultants for the Guinness World Records to adjudicate the World's oldest person title and identify other candidates for the title.

"To the citizens of Trelawny parish and Jamaica as a whole, I say with a nation of 2.8 inhabitants, Jamaica is the smallest nation to have produced a verified 115-year-old person," Young said during Brown's birthday party, before presenting her with a plaque.

"The United States have over 320 million people, Japan has over 127 million people. With such a huge population sometimes somebody is going to reach 115, but to have somebody reach 115 out of less than three million people is remarkable," he added.

"One-hundred-and-fifteen is not far behind. Only two years behind [the world's oldest person] at the moment," Young said.

Brown inherited the Jamaican record for longevity from Ida Stewart, whose birth was recorded as April 13, 1896. Stewart passed away on November 12, 2010, a day before her 114th birthday.

Patrick Atkinson, the Member of Parliament for North Trelawny, said during Brown's bash that she was the organist and secretary of the Trittonville Baptist Church in Duanvale and was baptised over a 100 years ago at age 13.

"...her life spans three centuries, so we give thanks for her longevity. What Mrs Violet Brown has achieved is clearly the result of God's blessing," Atkinson said. "She has lived in a part of each of three centuries. She was born in 1900, which was the last year of the 19th century, she lived through all of the 20th century and we are now in the 21st century."

Falmouth Mayor Garth Wilkinson was impressed with the centurion, whose husband was a cemetery keeper, whose duty it was to document all those buried in the Duanvale Cemetery.

"She actually kept all the records and still have the records of all the persons buried in the Duanvale Cemetery. And that was the responsibility of the parish council. So we are indeed grateful for the record-keeping because we don't think we have any other cemeteries, not only in the parish, but across Jamaica that has any record of persons who are deceased," Wilkinson expressed.

Brown, who was hailed as a "kind shopkeeper" in the community, walks with assistance and still reads without the use of glasses, which she demonstrated by reading portions of the words inscribed on the plaque she received from the Gerontology Research Group. She held the audience spellbound with her remarkable memory, while reciting the poem, Belshazzar's Feast.

'Aunt V', who attributed her longevity to eating coconut sauce, also known as 'run down', chided youngsters for their skimpy dressing and the fad of wearing their pants below their waistline.

Brown's granddaughter, Lelieth Palmer disclosed plans by the family to establish a foundation in 'Aunt V's' honour.


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